Bob Elliott, giant of Canadian sports journalism, wins Spink

Bob Elliott, who has been a positive influence on an entire country for the past 30 years as a writer, columnist and ambassador for baseball and Canada, was elected the 2012 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s induction weekend July 20-23 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Index of Spink Award winners

Elliott received 205 votes from the 455 ballots cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service in becoming the 63rd winner of the award since its inception in 1962 and named for the first recipient. Spink was a driving force of The Sporting News, known during his lifetime as the “Baseball Bible.”

Paul Hagen, an authoritative, analytical voice in Philadelphia over the past 25 years during a 40-year career, received 169 votes. Russell Schneider, a fixture of baseball coverage in Cleveland for half a century and the author of 13 books on the game, got 81.

The candidates were selected by a three-member, BBWAA-appointed committee and announced during the All-Star Game meeting July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. Voting was conducted in November through a mail ballot, a process that began in 2002.

Elliott has been a cornerstone and a sounding board for two Halls of Fame – at Cooperstown, in terms of paths to follow with veterans and the regular vote, and in the village of St. Marys in Ontario where the first pro game in Canada was played. He is the first Canadian writer to be honored.

Never before have there been as many Canadian players in college and pro leagues than in the past decade, and practically every one of them, their parents or coaches reached out to Elliott for advice and counsel. Elliott, known as “Boxer,” speaks the truth by investigating and researching all sides of the story, maintaining strong relationships with executives, players, managers, coaches, scouts, agents and fans with a high level of integrity and affection for the sport.

Elliott covered the Montreal Expos in the early 1980s with two Ottawa newspapers and quickly earned the trust and respect of the public relations department, front office, players and coaching staff. His move to the Toronto Sun allowed his talents as a writer to be appreciated by a wider audience.

The emergence of the Canadian pro baseball player closely parallels the emergence of Elliott as a major North American sports writing influence. In 2007, there were 750 Canadian athletes on scholarship at U.S. universities, colleges and junior colleges. At the same time there were 500 Canadian hockey players on scholarship in the States.

A former chairman of the Toronto Chapter, Boxer has served on several BBWAA committees and was the national president in 1999.